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Full text of "Men Of Mathematics"

MASTER AND PUPIL
being the place where Weierstrass (in 1842-43) first broke into
print. German schools publish occasional 'programmes' con-
taining papers by members of the staff. Weierstrass contributed
Remarks on Analytical Factorials. It is not necessary to explain
what these are; the point of interest here is that the subject of
factorials was one which had caused the elder analysts many a
profitless headache. Until Weierstrass attacked the problems
connected with factorials the nub of the matter had been
missed.
Crelle, we recall, wrote extensively on factorials, and we have
seen how interested he was when Abel somewhat rashly in-
formed him that his work contained serious oversights. Crelle
now enters once more, and again in the same fine spirit he
showed Abel.
Weierstrass' work was not published till 1S56, fourteen years
after it had been written, when Crelle printed it in his Journal.
Weierstrass was then famous. Admitting that the rigorous
treatment by Weierstrass clearly exposes the errors of his own
work, Crelle continues as follows: 'I have never taken the
personal point of view in my work, nor have I striven for fame
and praise, but only for the advancement of truth to the best
of my ability; and it is all one to me whoever it may be that
comes nearer to the truth - whether it is I or someone else,
provided only a closer approximation to the truth is attained.*
There was nothing neurotic about Crelle. Nor was there about
Weierstrass.
Whether or not the tiny village of Deutsch-Krone is con-
spicuous on the map of politics and commerce it stands out like
the capital of an empire in the history of mathematics^ for it
was there that Weierstrass, without even an apology for a
library and with no scientific connexions whatever, laid the
foundations of his life work - 'to complete the life work of Abel
and Jacobi growing out of Abel's Theorem and Jaeobi's dis-
covery of multiple periodic functions of several variables.'
Abel, he observes, cut down in the flower of his youth, bad no
opportunity to follow out the consequences of his tremendous
discovery a and Jacobi had failed to see clearly that the true
meaning of his own work was to be sought in Abel's Theorem*
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